Small…but perfectly formed?

Good day bloggers,

I thought I’d take a look this week at the vexed issues of graduate employment and growth in the UK economy. I recently blogged (see, ‘The Graduate’) about the increasing difficulty university graduates experience in obtaining employment once they complete their university studies.

Employment trends (reported by the Association of Graduate Recruitment) reveal an increasing ratio of graduates competing for jobs – rising to 70:1 in 2010. Add to that increasing unemployment amongst the age group 16-24 (at an all time high) according to data from the Office for National Statistics, with graduate jobless figures hitting a record high two weeks ago. Then throw in a lack of growth in new jobs revealed by research from recruiters Hays and (see blog post ‘Churn…but where’s the cream gone’) and it’s not looking like a great time to be young and seeking work.

I know – this all sounds very gloomy. But…there are some ‘small’ signs of the pall lifting.

“So how will it happen?” I hear you ask. Well Kingston University(in tandem with Barclays Business) has completed its own recent research study. The study asked small, medium, enterprise (SME’s) owners about their preparedness to recruit university graduates. Contrary to common perception, the SME’s confirmed that business orders are increasing and also showed a willingness to employ graduates. The challenge, according to the research author, Tom Wainwrightfrom Kingston University, is for graduates to consider working for small organisations as traditionally they have been attracted to work for the ‘big names’. the study concluded the SME’s will provide the biggest growth opportunities for graduates over the next twelve months; whereas larger organisations are not looking to increase headcount.

Of course in public sector large organisations we’re likely to lose considerable headcount (at least 500,000 according to the CIPD) and there will be a significant challenge not just to employ university graduates (although I believe this should be on our transformation and workforce remodelling agendas) but also to work with the private and third sectors to ensure employees have transferable skills to avoid the prospect of years of unemployment. What do you think?


By | 2017-07-30T12:23:30+01:00 November 8th, 2010|Categories: Dean Shoesmith|2 Comments


  1. Lucasta Grayson 10th November 2010 at 9:32 am - Reply

    Hi Dean,

    I have a daughter in her third year at university and so am acutely aware of the reality of all this. Even in the throws of budget reductions and organisational change we need to be thinking about bringing in graduates to career development roles and creating apprenticeships wherever possible. At Crawley we have just got apprenticeships off the ground and have our first NGDP employee this year but with the Comprehensive Spending Review front loading, all of these initiatives look vulnerable. As you say it is important for us to convince our organisations of the value of this investment in order for us to plan for the future.


  2. Dean Shoesmith 10th November 2010 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Hello Lucasta – firstly many thanks for your interesting, contextual comments. I wish your daugher every success in finding employment after completing her university studies. Maybe she should give a serious look at trawling the SME’s as a means of achieving her first step up on to the career ladder?

    I think there’s a real and critical role for HR practitioners to work with economic development colleagues to seek to promote opportunities for 16-24 year olds in employment and training.

    HR also has to lead by example – I consider this is vital in terms of developing young talent in our organisations, crusading the cause with the wider business community, but also practicing what we preach in terms of bringing young people in to HR. I’m pleased in the last week that we’ve just started off two new young apprentices in the HR shared service for Sutton and Merton. Our young people are our future.

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